Mansfield Shire Council recognises its responsibility as custodians of community resources. We aim to achieve maximum benefit to the community from all our resources while valuing and enhancing our natural environment. The environment has been recognised as a key strategic area to achieve our vision for the Mansfield Shire.
Committee & Strategy
Environment Advisory Committee
Mansfield Shire Council, at its Ordinary Meeting on 17 January 2012, supported the formation of the Environment Advisory Committee under the Local Government Act 1989. The objective of the Committee is to advise upon and facilitate the improvement and expansion of Council’s environmental management and sustainable development programs and policies to ensure Council is undertaking and promoting environmental conservation and sustainable resource use practices. The structure of the committee allows for relevant agency representation, youth representatives from the Mansfield Secondary College and three Mansfield Shire community representatives. The Committee meets six times per year.
The Mansfield Shire Environment Strategy was endorsed by Council on 18 September 2012. The Strategy identifies Council’s key achievements to date and the gaps which have become the focus of the implementation for the next five years. Accompanying the Strategy is an Executive Summary 169 KB PDF which is an outline of the Strategy in simplified and concise language. The intent of this document is to provide the reader with as much information as possible about the Strategy without the detail and technical jargon of the Strategy.
On 21 May 2013 Council further resolved that the Mansfield Shire Environment Action Plan 2013-17 will specifically target the following three key areas:
- The control of pest plants and animals
- Waste water management with a particular emphasis on the completion of a Waste Water Management Plan
- Roadside conservation and management
In September 2015, a review of the three priorities was undertaken given the progress made against each of them. This resulted in additional priority areas being added for implementation. The additional priorities are:
- Implement biodiversity initiatives
- Implement Great Victorian Rail Trail management initiatives
- Develop a project management checklist
On 27 June 2017 Council adopted a new Council Plan outlining priorities for the period from 2017 to 2021. The Council Plan includes an action to 'Review the Mansfield Environment Strategy to ensure its ongoing relevance and identify actions for implementation'. This work is scheduled to occur in 2018-2019.
For further information on any of the above, please contact Council's Environment Officer Damien Gerrans on 5775 8555.
There are dedicated community groups within Mansfield Shire who work tirelessly to improve the local environment. New members are always welcome!
Are you interested in revegetation, protecting native bush, growing indigenous plants, encouraging native grasses, soil conservation, erosion control, weed control? Then contact your local Landcare group. Here you can meet like-minded people, work on environmental projects and gain access to resources including grants, books, pamphlets, seedlings (when available) and expertise on many of these subjects.
For more information contact:
Up2Us Landcare Alliance
Mobile: 0400 613 344
Trust for Nature
Trust for Nature protects native plants and wildlife for future generations of Victorians by conserving habitat on private land. Working with landowners and others, it has secured 100,000 hectares - home to some of Victoria's most threatened species. Established under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act 1972, Trust for Nature is the only Victorian organisation to protect bushland with land management agreements that last forever.
For more information contact:
Regional Manager, Goulburn Broken
Mobile: 0407 521 154
Waterwatch is a national community water quality monitoring network that encourages all Australians to become involved and active in the protection and management of their waterways and catchments. The Waterwatch program was established by the Australian Government during 1993. There are now nearly 3000 Waterwatch groups monitoring water quality at over 7000 sites throughout 200 catchments. Waterwatch groups conduct biological and habitat assessments plus physical and chemical water tests. The Waterwatch network is made up of individuals, community groups, and school groups. Local Waterwatch facilitators and coordinators support the community to understand, protect and restore waterway and catchment health.
What is Native Vegetation?
The term ‘native vegetation’ refers to trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses that have grown naturally in Victoria prior to European arrival. It does not include plants that originate from other parts of Australia or from other countries. Victoria has a wide range of vegetation types, including alpine meadows, mallee, grasslands, grassy woodlands, forests, heathlands, wetlands and coastal scrub. Some of Victoria’s plants are endemic to the State which means they are found nowhere else in the world.
Why is Native Vegetation Important?
- Provides habitat for plants and animals
- Prevents land degradation, such as salinity and erosion
- Minimises impacts of the greenhouse effect
- Maintains long-term productive capacity of land
- Provides shade and shelter on farms, improving crop and stock productivity
- Protects water quality
- Provides opportunities for future use of genetic resources
- Maintains our distinctive Australian landscape
Native Vegetation Planning and Management
Historically, a vast amount of native vegetation has been cleared in the Goulburn Broken Catchment for the agricultural and timber industries. Today only 30% of the pre-European coverage remains. The Victorian Government has developed a Native Vegetation Management Framework to conserve, enhance and revegetate Victoria's native vegetation.
The framework has four guiding principles:
- Retention and management of remnant native vegetation is the best way to conserve biodiversity
- Conservation of native vegetation and habitat depends on the maintenance of catchment processes
- Costs should be shared equitably based on benefits to the landholder, community and region
- A landscape approach to planning native vegetation management is required and priorities should be based on bioregions within Catchment Management Authority regions.
Biogeographic regions (or Bioregions) depict the patterns of ecological characteristics in the landscape and are the basis for planning and managing biodiversity in Victoria. Bioregions are the basis from which the conservation status of Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) and priorities for managing threatened species are determined. EVCs are units that describe and map the local patterns of vegetation diversity. EVCs represent one or more plant communities that occur in a similar environmental niche (e.g. geology, soil, aspect, rainfall). The conservation status of remaining patches of EVCs is determined for each bioregion.
Removing Native Vegetation
Landowners must contact Council before removing native vegetation (including grasses and shrubs as well as trees) to determine if a planning permit is required. The need for a planning permit is determined by the Native Vegetation Management Framework and the local Planning Scheme.
In applying the Framework, there are three key steps for land managers and owners to address when considering vegetation clearing:
- Avoid adverse impacts, particularly through vegetation clearance;
- If impacts cannot be avoided, minimise impacts by careful planning, design and management; and
- If clearing must occur, the clearing must be offset
If a planning permit is required this three-step approach is an integral part of the decision making process relating to the permit. Offsets are determined by the conservation status of the EVC the vegetation proposed for removal represents.
For further information please contact Council's Environment Officer Damien Gerrans on 03 5775 8555.
Planting Native Vegetation
Broad-scale clearing that has historically occurred for economic development has caused environmental problems such as stressed ecosystems, salinity, poor water quality in streams and rivers and reduced populations of native animals, many to the point of extinction. To help combat this, individuals, organisations and regulatory authorities can revegetate areas of cleared land with native vegetation. There are two documents, specific to indigenous native vegetation of the Mansfield Shire, which assist with what species to plant and how to most successfully revegetate land. These are:
- Local Plants – A guide for the Mansfield Shire - This guide was published by Landcare and is available for purchase at the local bookstore or by contacting John Gilson on (03) 5779 1155.
- Revegetation Guide for the Goulburn Broken Catchment - This guide was published by the Department of Sustainability and Environment in 2001 and is available on their website.
Native Vegetation Contacts
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
North East Regional Office
Address: 86 Sydney Road Benalla Vic 3672
Phone: (03) 5761 1611
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority
Address: 168 Welsford Street
Postal Address: PO Box 1752 Shepparton Vic 3632
Phone: (03) 5820 1100
Road reserves make a significant contribution to biodiversity conservation. Many contain the last remaining intact areas of plant communities that provide habitat and wildlife corridors for a range of plants and animals. If you have a roadside containing native grasses, shrubs and trees adjacent to your property it will require little maintenance, be aesthetically pleasing and will provide abundant wildlife, shelter for stock and windbreaks for crops. Please leave tree limbs on a roadside rather than ‘tidying it up’ as logs and branches provide habitat for native animals.
Roadside Conservation Management Plan
Mansfield Shire Council, at its Ordinary Meeting on 17 June 2014, adopted the Roadside Conservation Management Plan (RCMP). The RCMP focuses on vegetated roadside areas. This complements Council’s role as a road manager relating to the traffic function of roads, as set out in the Road Management Act 2004.
The RCMP recognises that roadside vegetation forms important corridors in the landscape, providing habitat and links for flora and fauna, and also provides a large part of the aesthetic vegetated character of the municipality. The RCMP aims to assist roadside managers and users to understand vegetation values, applicable legislation requirements and suitable methods to reduce risks when working on roadsides.
The Roadside Conservation Management Plan consists of three documents:
- Community Roadside Handbook 990 KB PDF - This is a user friendly document for the general community as a reference for specific activities.
- Roadside Conservation Management Plan - Part 1 (Adopted June 2014)2.96 MB PDF - This is written specifically to assist Council Officers. It details Council’s role in roadside conservation by outlining the objectives, general principles and actions necessary to implement this Plan. It is an activity-based document that sets out the legislative requirements and issues that apply for each activity. It provides guidelines and methods for avoiding native vegetation damage. The RCMP refers to the Roadside Conservation Values Map Booklet which depicts ratings of High, Medium or Low conservation value for all Council managed roadsides.
- Roadside Conservation Code of Practice Handbook 1.2 MB PDF - This has been produced to serve the needs of road construction and maintenance contractors and Field Services Staff. It is to be used in conjunction with the Routine Roadside Maintenance Flowcharts included in this Plan and the Biodiversity Risk Management Protocols written specifically to assist Council and Contractors.
Roadside Conservation Value Mapping
The Roadside Conservation Values Map Booklet identifies the conservation value of all roadsides managed by Council in Mansfield Shire. The roadsides were assessed using methodology taken from the Roadsides Conservation Advisory Committee Roadside Assessment Handbook, 2000. A conservation value of high, medium or low is generated through a vehicle-based assessment with the presence of indicating factors including:
- Roadside width
- Wildlife corridor
- Weed cover
- Site disturbance
- Listed species status
- Fauna habitat (presence of trees, shrubs, grasses, leaf litter, fallen timber, rocks, crevices or wet marshy land)
Landholders can access their adjacent roadside conservation value information by contacting Council’s Environment Unit on 5775 8555.
In most cases Council consent is required before any works or activities are undertaken in a road reserve for which Council is the Coordinating Road Authority. Permits are a means of notifying Council and State Government Agencies prior to commencing any works on a road reserve to ensure a coordinated approach across the Shire to roadside management and road safety. Types of Permits include:
A Planning Permit is required for native vegetation removal (including grasses and shrubs as well as trees) and works such as erecting signs. Planning Permits are administered by Council's Planning Unit.
Local Laws Permit
A Local Laws Permit is required for activities such as grazing or droving stock, roadside trading, advertising signs, displays and sale of goods. Local Laws Permits are administered by Council's Local Laws Unit.
Works Within a Road Reserve Permit
A consent for Works Within a Road Reserve is required for works such as; property access (crossovers / driveways), bitumen sealed turnouts and shoulders, concrete footpaths, plumbing services connections, minor excavations to lay or maintain underground utility services. Consent for Works Within a Road Reserve Permits are administered by Council's Engineering Unit.
Mansfield Shire Council
Address: 33 Highett Street Mansfield Vic 3722
Phone: 03 5775 8555
Address: 50-52 Clarke Street Benalla Vic 3672
Phone: 13 11 71
A weed is a plant that establishes itself outside its normal environment. There are over 80 Declared Noxious Weeds in the Goulburn Broken Catchment. Noxious weeds are proclaimed under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 and are classified in four categories each with different responsibility for management.
Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994, it is an offence (without a permit) to buy, or offer to buy, sell, or offer to sell, possess for the purpose of sale, willfully bring or cause to be brought into Victoria, a noxious weed, noxious weed seed or any part of a noxious weed capable of growing. For further information or to report a possible sighting of a Declared Noxious Weed please contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP).
Roadside Weed Management
The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (“CaLP Act”) was amended on 18 November 2013 resulting in the introduction of a new system of roadside weed and pest management. The Catchment and Land Protection Amendment Act 2013 (“Amending Act”) has introduced a new system whereby municipal councils are required to prepare a roadside weed and pest animal management plan for land in their municipal district that is the subject of a declaration published in the Victoria Government Gazette.
On the occurrence of the declaration, the particular council mentioned in the Gazette will be responsible for the implementation of the approved plan for the period of the plans operation, which will be between 2 and 4 years depending on the requirements of the relevant declaration. The roadside weed and pest animal plans are only funded to address regionally prohibited weeds, regionally controlled weeds and established pest animals on rural municipal roads.
The Mansfield Roadside Weed and Pest Animal Plan is developed in consultation with State Government departments, Up2Us Landcare Alliance and the Mansfield Shire Environment Advisory Committee. The plan sets out priority areas for works in the Mansfield Shire over the duration of the plan.
The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 specifies four categories of noxious weeds in Victoria. These are: State Prohibited, Regionally Prohibited, Regionally Controlled and Restricted Weeds.
State Prohibited Weeds
These weeds either do not yet occur in Victoria but pose a significant threat if they invade, or are present, and do pose a serious threat and that it is reasonable to expect that they can be eradicated from Victoria. Control of these weeds is the responsibility of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) wherever they occur throughout Victoria.
Regionally Prohibited Weeds
Declared noxious weeds that are not widely distributed across Victoria, but are capable of spreading. It is reasonable to expect that they can be eradicated from a region. Private landholders are responsible for control on private land but not on roadsides adjoining their property, which are the responsibility of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources or Vic Roads, depending on the class of road.
Regionally Controlled Weeds
Declared noxious weeds that are widespread and established in a region. To prevent their spread, continuing control measures are required. Landholders have the responsibility to take all reasonable steps to control and prevent the spread of these weeds on their land and roadsides that adjoin their land.
This includes plants that are a serious threat to primary production, Crown land, the environment or community health in another State or Territory of Australia, which have the potential to spread into and within Victoria, and pose an unacceptable risk of spreading in this State or to other parts of Australia if they were to be sold or traded in Victoria. Trade in these weeds and material containing them is prohibited.
Related: Weeds of National Significance
Serious Agricultural Weeds
Goulburn Broken Weed Action Plan
The Goulburn Broken Weed Action Plan was developed by the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA) with the aim of including pest plant management in integrated catchment management in the Goulburn Broken Catchment Region. Weed Management is acknowledged as a key factor by the GBCMA to improving the health of environmental conditions in the Catchment. The Action Plan provides a regional approach to weed management that complements the existing directions in the National Weeds Strategy and the Victorian Weeds Strategy.
The Action Plan endeavours to actively involve; public land managers, private land managers, local government, water authorities, infrastructure agencies and community groups. The Action Plan aims to:
- Identify priority areas for weed control programs to focus limited resources more strategically
- Protect threatened assets, such as agricultural industries and biodiversity
- Establish regional priority weed species
- Encourage community ownership of weed program priorities
- Clearly identify roles and responsibilities for all land managers
- Provide a framework for investment on public and private land
The GBCMA have developed an identification Booklet for Weeds of the Goulburn Broken Catchment. To obtain a copy, please find more information on the GBCMA website.
Weed Spotters assist the Victorian Government by looking out for and reporting State prohibited weeds. The Weed Spotters program is for those who work in an industry or who are part of a group where they are likely to spend time in places where State prohibited weeds could be found.
If you are interested in becoming a Weed Spotter, please find further information on the DEDJTR website.
Local Weed Initiatives
Current Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources weed projects running in the local area include:
- Howqua - BlackBerry control program
- Swanpool - BlackBerry control program
- Merton - BlackBerry extension program
- Yea - BlackBerry extension program
For more information contact the Pest Management Officer at the Benalla Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Office on 03 5761 1611.
Department of Primary Industries (DPI)
Address: 89 Sydney Road Benalla Vic 3672
Phone: 03 5761 1611
Customer Service Centre – 136 186
Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA)
Address: 168 Welsford Street
Postal Address: PO Box 1752 Shepparton Vic 3632
Phone: 03 5820 1100